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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Book Review: "Calcio's Greatest Forwards" by George Rinaldi

Image credit: Steve Welsh
and Pitch Publishing Ltd.

George Rinaldi authors his first book with a focus on the best 21 strikers in Serie A history. He also asked several contributors to discuss their favorite attackers in detailed look at calcio's present and past legends in this role.

Discussion Items:

1. Organized Format
2. Writing Style
3. Images
4. Selected Quotes
5. Conclusion
6. About the Author

"... To paraphrase Jovanotti, Italian forwards are --- fiori cresciuto sull'asfalto e sul cemento --- flowers who grew up on asphalt and cement. Adversity is what made them who they are. They are Nietzchean heroes. Everything they suffered and endured only made them stronger." --- Gabriele Marcotti quoted on page 10.

"I hope that my work provides an easy research point for many in the future to use, but also to reminisce about the time calcio was unrivalled at the top of the football pyramid. I want the reader to relive some of the finest moments their favourite forward conjured up in a match..."

--- George Rinaldi, quoted on page 13, who is the author of "Calcio's Greatest Forwards," published by Pitch Publishing in February 2016 with a list price of £9.99.

I was pleased to see a foreign journalist tackle an Italian football topic far away from the usual talking points such as Catenaccio or Calciopoli. George Rinaldi, in his first book, focused on an important aspect of calcio that often has been relegated to a peripheral role away from the peninsula: The quality and impact of Serie A forwards.

I have always believed that Serie A's tactical focus produced great strikers due to an increased difficulty to create chances and ultimately score goals. Let's take a longer look at this detailed historical examination about legendary strikers who have graced the Italian top flight since 1929.

1. Organized Format

There are 21 concise chapters (one for each featured striker), a foreword by the notable Italian and world football expert, Gabriele Marcotti, a Facts File section, along with a helpful language glossary, respectively. Several chapters, but not all, had introductions by notable journalists who cover Italian football. This book is 272 pages in length.

2. Writing Style

Rinaldi was also an editor for this project due to the vast amount of guest contributions that enhanced the overall content. The author's writing style is journalistic in tone, objective (he excluded his favorite striker, Luca Toni, from this book) with notable enthusiasm. The reader will easily discern his passion for this project. The historical research (background information about the players, match commentaries, quotes from players, and a blend of modern versus the early period of Serie A) was superb.

3. Images

Steve Welsh designed the cover and Josh Clifford provided the artwork for a great selection of illustrated portraits for each featured player.

4. Selected Quotes

"Football is becoming a game about excessive athleticism with no poetry..." José Altafini quoted on page 25.

"When I was playing football, I never enjoyed it that much, I was never happy. If I scored two goals, I wanted a third, I always wanted more." Gabriel Batistuta quoted on page 38.

"Winning isn't important. It's the only thing that counts." Giampiero Boniperti quoted on page 74.

"The number 10 is that player who surprises and excites, wrong-foots everyone with a piece of skill perhaps he's not even fully aware of. This number was my destiny right away." Roberto Mancini quoted on page 132.

"Having him (Giuseppe Meazza) in your team means you start every game 1-0 up." Vittorio Pozzo quoted on page 149.

"The first time I came here and looked at all these cups, I said to myself, 'My God, what a team I've joined!' " Andriy Shevchenko quoted on page 193 about AC Milan.

"He was easily the best player I ever played with. Right foot. Left foot. Heading, so strong, fast. He could score, he could pass the ball. He was the best..." Paolo Maldini quoted on page 246 about Marco Van Basten.

5. Conclusion

This book was an important historical work in English about a niche that has not received enough attention in my opinion. Whether you are a new follower of Italian football, or a long-time tifoso, "Calcio's Greatest Forwards" will make a great reference source. Chapeau to George Rinaldi for a tremendous effort in his first, and hopefully, not last, book about world football. 

Please Note

I have received a complimentary review copy of this book from a representative of the publisher, Pitch Publishing. I was not financially compensated by the author, publisher or any party who would benefit from a positive review.

6. About the Author

George Rinaldi (@GeorgeRinaldi) is a 21-year-old sports journalist currently covering European football, with a particular interest in Italy's Serie A. He currently writes for Football Italia, Forza Italian Football and FourFourTwo, as well as US sports magazines Howler and Soccer 360. George is a supporter of both Wolverhampton Wanderers and Fiorentina. This is his first book.

Biographical text courtesy of and copyrighted by Pitch Publishing.

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Steve Amoia is a freelance writer and translator based in Washington, D.C. He is the publisher of World Football Commentaries since 2006 and published The Soccer Translator from 2008 to 2015. 

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